It’s that time of year again – how did my triathlon season go? As a whole it went very good.  There are parts of it that I’m not happy with and parts that I am happy with.

Training: with the addition of a 2 year old to my family in April – there was a strong possibility that I would have issues doing the training required for the performances I wanted.  I expected challenges to range from decreased motivation to train, to lack of time to train, to pressure to not take time away from the family.  In the end, I did experience all of these from time to time, but I am very happy with the balance that I was able to maintain between family, triathlon, and work.  Continuing to achieve improved results while being a father is very satisfying.

Results: I had 6 results this year that indicate that I am continuing to improve.  Breaking 1:20 in a half-marathon, setting the course record at the J-hawk Early Bird and my solid performance at the Triple T, are all great highlights.  IMCDA was a great experience and result for me within the context of my preparation.  Kona – well Kona was a great race.  While I “only” went 10 minutes faster than last year, when you look at my race relative to the field I made some very large gains across the board.

Luck: I continue to suffer from bad “luck” at my main races.  At Kona in 2011 I had a broken spoke, IMAZ a broken bike, at IMCDA seat post slippage; at Kona 2012 I was a bit under the weather.  Despite these setbacks, I am still delivering solid results – but each incident has without a doubt caused me to under-perform to varying degrees.  Going forward, I need to be much better about controlling variables, particularly in the lead up to my key races.  Food intake, safety, maintenance, sickness, etc; fitness and execution allow us to manufacture some of our own luck, but I would hate to suffer a bout of preventable bad luck that I can’t overcome.

Half Ironman: I continue to blow chunks at the half Ironman distance.  I’m not sure what combination of training, resting, or execution I have wrong at the distance, but I suck (at least in my opinion and the results tend to agree.)  At IMAZ I have shaved 46 minutes off my time 2007 -> 2011.  I would call myself competitive in my AG at Kona, yet I can’t break 4:20 for a half.  Loser.

Training inside: a side effect of adding a child to the family and working to minimize the impacts of training on family time, I spent an extremely large portion of my time on the bike inside.  I’m talking I spent so much time inside on the bike trainer, that I probably did more races then outdoors bike sessions.  I don’t regret this for a second, but I feel that this had a pretty negative impact on my bike handling and comfort level while training.  I’m not sure what I can do to mitigate this, but I did purchase a set of rollers and hopefully that will increase the variety of training and help to minimize the impact to my bike handling skills.

So what is the game plan going forward?

Honestly, I don’t envision doing too many things different from 2012 to 2013 in terms of training approach.  I feel that I made some big leaps in fitness this year: my 5 hour MMP increased by 8%, my 2 hour MMP increased 10%, I ran some very fast 5k efforts in training.  So I don’t feel or see the need for a radical change simply because I didn’t properly leverage that fitness at key races.  My continued improvement tells me that I have yet to reach the point of diminishing returns on the current approach, and that by focusing on the variables I haven’t been controlling; I will arrive on my target days able to leverage every ounce of fitness.

Specific to racing next year I have only committed myself to two: the Triple T and IMCDA.  Unlike last year, I intend to come into IMCDA fully prepared and ready to do my fitness justice, with the singular goal of qualifying to return to Kona.   Assuming that happens, I’ll head back to Kona with the same goal(s) that I had going into this year.

I will probably add a half or two in to the calendar to help rid myself of the frustration of poor performances at that distance.